Hamish Fletcher

Hamish Fletcher is a business reporter for the NZ Herald

Slingshot opens up Netflix to Kiwis

Internet provider unblocks major TV and video streaming services.

Mad Men is one of the shows US-based Netflix offers for around US$10 a month, and which Kiwis can now access.
Mad Men is one of the shows US-based Netflix offers for around US$10 a month, and which Kiwis can now access.

Slingshot has just made it a lot easier for its customers to access television and movie streaming websites like Netflix and BBC iPlayer that are normally blocked to this country's internet users.

For the past 12 months Slingshot has offered a service called Global Mode, letting households with international visitors sign up and have access to websites such as Netflix which are blocked in some parts of the world.

The service was seen by some as a ruse, allowing New Zealanders to access these websites simply by telling their internet company they had a cousin from Minneapolis staying with them.

Slingshot, the country's third-biggest internet company, is now unblocking about two dozen international sites for all of its customers to access. They won't need to claim they are playing host to overseas visitors.

"No beating around the bush. This is to watch Netflix, this is to watch BBC iPlayer, this is to watch Hulu, this is to watch Amazon Prime," Slingshot general manager Taryn Hamilton told the Herald.

"This is basically going to enable that to happen ... any Slingshot customer by default if they type in Netflix, it will work. If they type in Hulu it will work," he said.

Both Netflix and Hulu offer a range of television series and movies for under US$10 ($11.40) a month which users can stream on an internet-connected television or computer.

Netflix has streamed popular series like Mad Men - albeit in some cases a season behind other pay providers.

Slingshot's service works by tricking these sites that the person accessing it is doing so from the United States or United Kingdom. It affects only those websites and won't affect customers trying to watch local content from websites like TVNZ Ondemand.

Some of the content providers still require users to register with a United States mailing address or zip code and those who give a false one can be in breach of their terms and conditions.

Hamilton said Slingshot had nothing to do with that part of the process.

"This is just enabling people to consume those services if they want to," he said "Kiwis deserve to watch the same stuff that guys in the States do and at the same price."

Hamilton hoped Sky Television would not contest the move too strongly and said it would be a bad public relations message to do so.

He also did not expect too much of an adverse reaction from providers like Netflix and hoped it would speed up the service's entry into the New Zealand market.

"Netflix is well aware how many people are consuming it from outside of the countries they're located in but it's incremental money for them which is incremental money for the [copyright] holders ... it's not as if you're getting it for free. Someone's still paying a fair price for a fair service," Hamilton said.

The timing of the move isn't good for Telecom, which has an internet video service launching soon for $15 a month with less content than these overseas sites.

The unblocking service is available only to customers of Slingshot and not its sub-brand Flip or Orcon.


On offer

Websites Slingshot is unblocking include:

Amazon Prime
Hulu
Netflix US
BBC iPlayer

- NZ Herald

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